Issue Date: December 19, 2011
Senate Panel Approves U.S. Biodefense Bill
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions approved legislation last week that would bolster the nation’s ability to respond to a pandemic or an attack involving a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapon. “We have made remarkable progress in strengthening our nation’s medical and public health preparedness and response in recent years, but more needs to be done,” says Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming, the committee’s ranking Republican member and cosponsor of S. 1855. The bill reauthorizes several government initiatives that were created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, such as Project BioShield. The multi-billion-dollar program, managed by the Department of Health & Human Services, provides biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies with financial incentives to research and develop vaccines and other treatments for unconventional threats such as anthrax, smallpox, and botulism. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation (H.R. 2405) on Dec. 6.
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